On January 17, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the U.S. equivalent of Transport Canada, announced that it was looking at possibly launching an investigation into reports of unexpected accelerations of certain Tesla models. In total, some 500,000 vehicles would fall under the agency's scrutiny.
As of Friday, Tesla had not yet offered any answers to the allegations. On Monday, the company vehemently denied the allegations, claiming that the reports originated with a short seller. Those who engage in this practice sell shares they don't own in order to resell them at a lower price. The goal, of course, is to drive the share price down.
After checking the facts, CNBC confirmed Tesla's claim that the original complaint to NHTSA was filed by an investor, Brian Sparks. The first round in this saga thus seems to go to Elon Musk, big boss of Tesla.
Brian Sparks told CNBC that he conducted his own investigation and filed a claim with NHTSA after learning that another person, the owner of a Model 3, claimed that his vehicle had accelerated without warning on two occasions.
Brian Sparks' request claimed that 127 consumers had complained to NHTSA and that 123 vehicles were involved. There were also 110 accidents and 52 injuries related to the issue.
For its part, Tesla is clear in citing that "there have been no unexpected accelerations of Tesla vehicles”. The company adds that with this type of case, the company is fully transparent in its dealings with the NHTSA. This is of course debatable, the NHTSA having criticized the company for failing to issue a recall last May in response to unexpected vehicle fires. Tesla had chosen to perform a software update.
Odds are this is not the end of the story, and we will come back to you with more once NHTSA decides whether or not to proceed with an investigation.